IT is a little over a year since Mansfield’s Steve Grainger was appointed as rugby development director at the Rugby Football Union (RFU).
The 46-year-old father-of-two was given one of the most important jobs in British sport in June last year and says he is thriving on the challenge of developing rugby from grassroots level.
Steve has responsibility for all grassroots rugby development, ensuring the nation’s clubs, colleges, universities and schools have the capacity and capabilities to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
“We’re trying to get more children and adults playing the game and making sure clubs have the right facilities, the right coaches and the best referees,” said Steve.
“Rugby is a great sport with a great tradition but it has been in decline in recent years and we’re only just beginning to buck the trend and get more people playing again.
“Every England player started their career by either playing for their club or school and worked their way up.”
Steve spends his week between his home in Mansfield and RFU’s base at Twickenham as well as visiting clubs and academies.
“I have a team of guys working for me but I travel round clubs myself so I can keep my ear to the ground,” added Steve.
“I’ll speak to clubs over a two or three week basis and I’ll get an indicator for common problems which they experience.
“But it’s very important that I speak to the guys at the top as well like Stuart Lancaster (England head coach) so everything is integrated and we’re all working together.”
Steve has worked in sport since he moved to Mansfield 25 years ago and was awarded an MBE for his services in 2007 for his work as chief executive of the Youth Sport Trust.
He also has responsibility for growing the leisure formats of the game including sevens, touch and tag rugby and also leads the facilities and funding programme that has invested over £100m in RFU clubs.
Speaking from his Birch Grove home this week, he says there is added responsibility for looking after one sport ahead of its premier tournament.
“We have to make sure we make the most of the world cup, it is a clearly defined mark in the sand,” he added.
“It is hard work but it’s a job I love, having a board meeting in one of the boxes overlooking Twickenham is a pretty inspirational environment to work in.
“At local level things are looking good too, Mansfield Rugby Club is developing very well and what they do in the community is fantastic.”